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OSHA Alleges Repeat Painter Hazards

Friday, February 7, 2014

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A Texas trailer manufacturer has repeatedly exposed painters and abrasive blasters to airborne particles over eight times the permissible limit, as well as several other hazards, federal safety regulators alleged.

PJ Trailers Manufacturing Co. Inc. was cited for eight safety and health violations, including five repeat violations, after a July follow-up inspection at its Sumner, TX, facility, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday (Feb. 3).

Proposed fines total $187,000.

PJ Trailers
Photos: PJ Trailers

PJ Trailers, based inof Sumner, TX, has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The agency alleges repeat and serious violations involving painters, blasters and other workers.

PJ Trailers manufactures flatdeck, deckover, tilt, dump, carhauler and utilities trailers from its facilities in Sumner, TX, and Mt. Orab, OH.

'Lax Attitude'

"These violations demonstrate the company's lax attitude toward protecting workers at this facility from serious injuries. OSHA will not tolerate such negligence," said Stephen Boyd, director of OSHA's Dallas Area Office. "Employers must provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees."

The citation documents can be viewed here and here.

The company did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday (Feb. 6).

The company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

Repeat Violations

The latest inspection found five repeat violations, totaling $169,000 in proposed penalties.

Repeat violations accuse the company of:

  • Exposing employees to airborne concentrations of iron oxide and copper fumes, a mixture OSHA says has an additive toxic effect on the lungs, and not providing exhaust or ventilation systems ($38,500);
  • Exposing a powder-coat operator and abrasive-blasting workers to airborne concentrations of particulates ($33,000);
  • Not guarding machinery to prevent employees from having body parts in danger zones ($70,000);
  • Not closing unused openings on electrical equipment ($16,500); and
  • Not having flexible cords connected to devices to keep tension from joints or terminal screws ($16,500).

Repeat violations are issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

Dozens of Earlier Violations

PJ Trailers and Delco Trailers Co. Inc., a similar company owned by PJ Trailers, were first cited for the violations in two cases that were opened March 28, 2011, according to OSHA records.

OSHA citations

"These violations demonstrate the company's lax attitude toward protecting workers at this facility from serious injuries," OSHA said.

One of the inspections was closed in April 2013 and resulted in four serious, one willful and three other-than-serious violations, totaling $76,000 in penalties. OSHA had originally cited PJ Trailers for seven serious, two willful, one repeat and five other-than-serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $138,600.

The other inspection has not yet been indicated as closed, but a close conference took place in Sept. 2011. Initial citations noted 34 serious, 10 willful and 11 repeat violations with a proposed penalty of $1,087,700. Although the case is not officially closed, OSHA has so far reduced those violations to 21 serious, two willful, three repeat and eight other-than-serious citations with $382,520 in proposed penalties.

The company was also inspected in 2012 following a complaint, but no citations were issued.

3 Serious Citations

In the current case, the three serious citations allege:

  • Leaving broken crane hooks in service, exposing employees to struck-by and/or crushed-by hazards ($7,000);
  • Leaving a forklift with broken parts in service ($5,500); and
  • Not removing a portable angle grinder extension cord that had damaged insulation ($5,500).

Serious violations reflect substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard the employer knew or should have known about.

PJ Trailers has 15 business days from receiving the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

   

Tagged categories: Abrasive blasting; Hazards; Health and safety; OSHA; Violations

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